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Phils play it safe, pull Wheeler (back) early in win

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Published in Baseball
Tuesday, 09 July 2024 20:06

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Phillies right-handed ace Zack Wheeler says his goal is to make his next start after suffering from tightness in his lower back.

As for that All-Star Game trip? Wheeler says he's still on the fence about traveling to Texas to join six of his Phillies teammates at the July 16 game.

Wheeler brushed aside any serious concern about the state of his back after he left the Phillies' 10-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers after five innings with left low back tightness. Wheeler said he played it safe with his health after he sat in the dugout for an extended time when Trea Turner hit a grand slam and the Phillies scored six runs in the fourth inning.

He pitched one more inning and earned his 10th win.

The 34-year-old Wheeler conceded his back has bothered him at least since a June 22 win over Arizona in Philadelphia. He took the loss in his last start at Miami.

"I landed kind of hard here on the mound before we left for that road trip," Wheeler said. "It just tightened up on me then and just had to deal with it and treat it here and there."

Wheeler threw 76 pitches on a steamy night in Philadelphia and left with the Phillies leading 9-1. He allowed three hits, struck out seven and walked two. Wheeler allowed a solo home run to Cavan Biggio in the fifth inning.

Wheeler -- who improved to 10-4 and lowered his ERA to 2.70 -- was lined up to start for the Phillies this weekend and won't be available for the National League staff in next week's All-Star Game. The major-league-leading Phillies had a big-league-high seven All-Star selections.

Wheeler said he hasn't made up his mind yet if he will attend the game held at Globe Life Field. Wheeler and fellow pitchers Ranger Suárez, Jeff Hoffman and Matt Strahm were picked to join three starting Phillies position players: first baseman Bryce Harper, Turner and third baseman Alec Bohm.

Wheeler joined Aaron Nola and Suárez as Philadelphia's trio of 10-game winners before the All-Star break -- a first in franchise history. It's the first time in Wheeler's career he won 10 games before the All-Star break.

Wheeler and the Phillies agreed in March on a $126 million, three-year deal for 2025-27 that has the fourth-highest average salary in baseball history at $42 million.

Seranthony Domínguez, Gregory Soto, Orion Kerkering and José Ruiz combined to toss four-hit ball against the Dodgers over four scoreless innings of relief.

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